More Vacation of a Lifetime Adventures with Michele Chandler

The following is a blog post from Select Registry Vacation of a Lifetime winner Michele Chandler. Here is the original publication.

I was lucky to be able to squeeze in a quick 5-day trip with my friend Bev just before Easter.

We set our course for upstate NY and southern Vermont, hoping for the first blast of spring to welcome us in the highlands and mountains.  As we approached Cooperstown from the north, wind-whipped snow-covered fields prevailed with icy road conditions. Mother Nature was not going to let winter go gently into the night.

Inn at CooperstownLuckily Cooperstown is in a hollow and the snow and ice was gone from the streets upon our arrival. We quickly found the very centrally located Inn at Cooperstown and went exploring the quaint village.

The Inn Proprietors, Sherrie and Marc, are HUGE cyclists and Marc took great pride in showing me his cycling clubhouse in the back of the Inn.  This is a great destination for bikers and beer lovers, and the Inn has some wonderful packages that let guests avail themselves of both local assets.

Bev and I decided to forgo the biking but indulged in a great tour at Ommegang Brewery just south of the town. If you like Belgian beers, this is a bucket-list destination. The onsite cafe provides complimentary food that matches the various beer styles and strengths that Ommegang brews.

After lunch, in sleet and hail, we drove northeast towards historic Saratoga Springs. I hadn’t spent much time in this part of the state, but it was a homecoming for Bev, as she and her family had enjoyed many summers in the region for racing season.

Saratoga ArmsThe town was much larger than I remembered, and the traffic was constant – giving rise to wonder what it would be like in the height of horse season. Our charming accommodation at the Saratoga Arms was so centrally located that we parked the car, and enjoyed the town on foot, not worrying about driving until later the next day.

The Smith family and their staff were exceptionally gracious helping us plan our time and were able to make a last-minute booking for me at the Roosevelt Baths for a mineral springs soak and  massage. Bev chose to walk the main street and explore the excellent shops, cafes and bookstore on the main drag.

It was a shame to leave Saratoga so soon, but we wanted to get to Arlington, VT while still in daylight. Through the foothills of the Taconic range, we found our way up to the West Mountain Inn.

alpacaThe Inn and its Innkeeper, Terri, were a delightful stop for complete R&R. The sum total of my exploring was a visit to the Alpaca ‘lodge’ with a bowl full of carrots. Only at a Select Registry Inn would you be given a silver bowl full of vegetables to feed the resident livestock!

I did get the opportunity to walk the labyrinth and visit the peace totems that were positioned around the land. It was a lovely and peaceful place to spend a quiet evening.

Unfortunately, I had hoped to get up early with sunrise and take some pictures over the mountains, but the spring rains arrived, and fog enshrouded the mountain tops.  The constant drizzle encouraged us to take in more retail than planned as an ‘indoor activity.’

Vermont advertises Route 101 as a ‘scenic byway’, and as the mist and clouds lifted, the drive down the highway was spectacular! With the Taconics in the West and the Green Mountains in the East, it was hard to keep focused on the road. The looming Equinox Mountain was a beacon as we approached our next destination – The Inn at Manchester.

A warm front moved in as we settled into our rooms overlooking the western view, and we both wished we had packed shorts and flip flops for the onset of an unexpected 80-degree day.

Julie, Frank, and Alice were so gracious with their hospitality and humour they made us right at home. Even Chai, the resident miniature poodle, snuggled beside me on the parlour porch, just to make sure that all was good. We really felt like we made good friends at the Inn, and hope to go back soon.

Bev and I took the opportunity to explore some of central Vermont as our next stop, The Maple Leaf Inn in Barnard was not too far.  There was lots of retail in Manchester check out, and some great little country stores in Dorset and Weston worthy of a visit.  Beautiful route 101A was still harbouring some of winter, but the spring runoff had the creeks and rivers rushing fast and furiously in the bright sunshine.

The Maple Leaf InnAfter exploration of Woodstock, VT, we drove 10 miles north into the hamlet of Barnard and the Maple Leaf Inn. Nancy and Mike were great hosts, and their dogs, the stately Nona, and the puppy Beckett, provided much entertainment.  The property still had large patches of snow around, defying the 70-degree day in April. Our 3rd floor rooms were lovely and cozy, with all the amenities you could want, including radiant bathroom floors!

As we had an early morning departure, it was a quick goodbye to drive back to Toronto for evening obligations. The temperature dropped steadily from high 60’s to just above freezing in a matter of minutes as we followed the St. Lawrence River southeast towards NY state. A sudden blizzard whipped up, and the sky changed to an eerie orange/gray as we continued east. What a difference a day made!

The front passed over quickly, and the precipitation flip-flopped from rain to wintery mix as we approached Toronto.  But the weather couldn’t dampen our spirits from a great 5-day getaway into some very picturesque country.

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